Which critical thinking test is best for community college students?

Group of community college students sitting on bench in on campus

The most important step when a community college or technical college starts a campus-wide project focused on improving student critical thinking is to choose the right assessment.  Success of these initiatives require that the assessment tool can efficiently deliver the high integrity data needed to meet program objectives. A mismatch of test to test-takers can reduce the relevance and validity of metrics delivered.

2-year colleges frequently ask us which critical thinking test is better for their students: the CCTST or the TER?

Short answer: it depends on your students and your goals.  Both the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) and the Test of Everyday Reasoning (TER) are appropriate for students in two-year degree programs. Both of these assessments offer a full array of scores including numeracy and two-year college comparison percentiles.

Why choose the CCTST?

  • CCTST Family of Tests measures critical thinking skills The CCTST is used in junior colleges, 4- year colleges and graduate level institutions. Adoptions by 2-year colleges and universities began 25 years ago but were not common until the year 2000.
  • National comparison percentiles for CCTST were first available in 2005. Percentiles are created using a proprietary algorithm modeling the national population based on variables like geographic region, IRS classification, residential/online, ethnicity of student population, professional program versus liberal arts and sciences programs. Percentiles are updated periodically to reflect any changing trends.
  • CCTST has been adopted by state university systems at the 2-year college level and is an approved instrument in performance-based funding states for demonstration of learning outcomes in 2-year colleges.
  • Because scores can also be interpreted in terms of 4-year college percentiles, this instrument is particularly useful when students will expect to transfer to a 4-year program.

Why Choose the TER?

  • Test of Everyday ReasoningTER is a form of the CCTST that was calibrated specifically for the 2-year college population and introduced in the year 2000, as the Test of Everyday Reasoning (TER).
  • Over the years, the TER has become increasingly popular with 2-year institutions and currently is used equally as often as the CCTST.
  • Percentiles are created for TER using the same method as CCTST. Two-year college percentiles for TER have been available since 2008.  Some community colleges have moved from CCTST to the TER because it better served their more rural institutions.  The TER is being used currently in a recent NSF grant obtained by a two year college; the inclusion of the numeracy score was an important factor.
  • The TER is more narrowly focused to maximally spread scores in the 2-year college student population. TER is particularly useful when there is a need to identify students at risk, or for demonstrating gains from entry to exit (as it can better capture change within the 2-year college range of scores).

Insight Assessment clients know they can depend on our comprehensive set of test instruments to assess core critical thinking skills and the habits of mind for many educational purposes including program admissions, advising, identifying students’ educational needs and strengths, and predicting the students future success in achieving professional licensure.

Call us at 650-697-5628 if you need a validated, proven assessment calibrated for students at two year college programs.

Our assessment specialists are committed to helping our clients identify the optimal match between test taker and assessment. We’ll be happy to talk with you in more depth about each of these options to help you identify which assessment would best fit your needs. We can also arrange a preview of the instruments.

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